“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Absence of God

While on my silent retreat I picked up the "Inaugural Issue" of the Weavings. I love this journal, have for years. I love the poetry, the reflections, especially the writings of Wendy Wright. And, given where my life is right now, I figured it was no small coincidence that the lead article was titled, "The Absence of God" written by E. Glenn Hinson.

The article draws on Mother Theresa's memoir, her startling assertion that "The place of God in my soul is blank.....There is no God in me...I just hear my own heart cry out - 'My God' and nothing comes."

He offers this assessment: most contemplatives have discovered "The deeper you plunge into the depths of God, the more likely you are to experience how utterly inadequate is our human capacity for meeting and knowing God."

He then goes on to speak about the apophatic and kataphatic streams of mysticism - that there is no way to really know God or the way to know God is affectively as love.

Hinson writes: "Persons who want to just dabble in religious life and who have only a casual interest in God will not be likely to experience the 'darkness' and desolation' Jesus experience on the cross, 'My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me....or Mother Theresa knew as she immersed herself totally in ministering to 'the distressed Christ in his many disguises.' Like Mother Theresa and many another saint, you have to have known at some time in your life a sense of Presence, God's shekinah, in order to miss it."

And then ends with this:

"Thinking about this dark night causes me to ask another question. Given the fact that God is always beyond our knowing, should we not sometimes measure our faith by our sense of the absence of God as well as our sense of the presence of God?"

Quiet Day

I feel asleep last night at 8pm and slept soundly for 10 hours. As I woke from that deep sleep the sky was turning from dark indigo blue to pale blue with streaks of pink and yellow, rays of sun spilling over the mountain before the sun itself appears. I turned off the air (its unseasonably hot here) and opened up windows and doors to let in the early morning cool. I threw on my yoga attire, spread out the mat, and started the DVD, AM Yoga. I lay on the mat, calm breath, calm breeze. I think, I haven't seen another spider or any other living critter since the fatal meeting yesterday, so I think I can close my eyes.

Breathe.

Calm Breeze.

Cool air.

Breathe.

Twenty minutes of gentle postures work the tightness out of my lower back and shoulders. Twenty minutes of slow movement stretching my body awake. Twenty minutes later I lay on the floor, breathing. An invitation to meditate. An invitation to quiet. It's perfect.

Except inside of me, I am restless, not calm. Tears well up, but like the parched desert I am dry.

After yoga I read the NY Times article about the journalist who spent 7 months and 10days in Taliban captivity. I remember when Ryan was in the Army, stationed in this same area. I remember him telling us about the daily bombings to the army base, his constant fear. The heat, 120 degrees. The article will appear over several editions of the NY Times, which I may read online.... I go to breakfast, yogurt and a banana and coffee with honey and skim milk. I return and read and color mandalas.

And do more yoga. An hour this time. Strenuous. The room is getting hot. I close the door and window and turn on the air. And take a shower. Lunch is quiet, too. A salad with a side of salted nuts and raisins and iced tea. I return to my room and color the mandala some more.

The sun is blazing hot, the sky cloudless pale blue, 97 degrees, probably.

My spirit is restless. I think I'll take a walk. Perhaps the hot sun will dry the restlessness out of me, leaving me parched, but quiet?